How much room does a new house take up? If you’re fortunate, the actual space is around 2,000 square feet. But, in reality, a new home has an impact much greater than its actual dimensions or footprint. Each new property affects the local community, local amenities, energy needs, local roads and council services. And that’s just the beginning. The Government has stated that it wants to build over a million and a half new homes between 2015 and 2022. On the surface this appears to be an ambitious, but commendable, plan. But what are the hidden consequences of this plan going to be?
Common wisdom has it that you shouldn’t poke a sleeping bear. And, if that bear is a billionaire Russian Oligarch and the stick is a being wielded by a retired Banker, that advice should probably be heeded even more. However, it appears that even Russian bears can be halted in their tracks by building legislation. In this case, Rights of Light. So far, this simple piece of building rights law, brought into effect by 69-year-old Nicholas Crosthwaite, has kept Roman Abramovich from completing his £1 billion redevelopment of Chelsea Stadium at Stamford Bridge. And, for Mr. Abramovich, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel just yet.
Bricks. Literally the building blocks of our towns and cities. They’re such an integral part of our urban and suburban landscape that we simply take them for granted. But the construction industry doesn’t take them for granted: at the moment, they’ll be happy to take them from almost anywhere at all. You may not know it, but we’re in the middle of an industry-wide brick shortage and bricks are, almost, worth their weight in gold. So, why is there a shortage at a time when house building is beginning to revive?
If you’ve travelled around major UK cities, like London, you’ve no doubt seen new residential properties being built on, what looks like, any available plot of land. Former office buildings are being transformed into apartment blocks; entire estates are being created where Army barracks or University campuses used to be; and, as DIY warehouse superstores close down, residential blocks are springing up in their place. There seems to be a major residential building boom taking place. But the problem is that only a small percentage of those homes are actually deemed affordable housing.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the building industry is facing a difficult time at the moment. With Brexit looming, the economic uncertainty should be adversely affecting new building projects. And, as skilled Eastern European workers, concerned about their future in the UK, head home, there is also a diminishing pool of experienced builders. The weak pound has increased the cost of imported building materials by 3% and the costs are continuing to climb.
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